These latest initiatives follow a set of Four A's guidelines unveiled in October 1997, and one of them takes on the controversial subject of speculative creative.
Cleve Langdon, director of business development at DDB Worldwide and chairman of the Four A's new-business committee, said the goal is to regulate the amount of work often requested by clients or potential clients in a review.
UNNECESSARY SPEC WORK
Mr. Langdon said agencies shouldn't present material that "is beyond a well-directed storyboard.
"Everybody is in favor of spec work," he noted, "but no one is in favor of spec that wastes money on unnecessary production. It hurts smaller agencies and those that don't have the money to put against it."
Said fellow committee member Peter Drakoulias, Deutsch partner and director of business development: "We want to level the playing field so one agency isn't outdoing another. [The goal] is to set some rules for everybody to play by."
The second new guideline states that agencies should not pay search consultancies a fee in order to participate in an account review.
SUBSTANTIAL 'CLUB FEES'
Many search consultancies charge a "club fee" for agencies to be listed on their roster or Web site. Online consultancy Agency Finder.com, for example, is said to charge agencies $2,500 for a listing on its site.
Others, such as Select Resources International and AAR/Bob Wolf & Partners, are said to have charged national agencies as much as $15,000 in annual fees.
"What has been a small cost has now become a substantial cost," said O. Burtch Drake, Four A's President-CEO, who added that the "arrival of dot-com search consultancies" has added greatly to agencies' consultancy costs.
If agencies signed up with every search consultancy, they could spend upwards of $50,000 annually in extra fees, Mr. Drake said. He also estimated that approximately 70% of all new-business reviews today are run by consultants. STANDARD QUESTIONS
The third guideline encourages search consultants and prospective agency clients to use a standardized Four A's questionnaire to solicit agency information.
As a trade group, the Four A's can suggest but can't mandate that agencies follow its guidelines. The group, however, hopes it can provide the industry with a uniform code with which to work.